Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Why Jaguars hired Urban Meyer: Florida ties, top pick helped lure former Ohio State coach to Jacksonville

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Jaguars Thursday made official what had been rumored in NFL and college football circles since late December: Longtime college football coach Urban Meyer is coming out of retirement to become Jacksonville’s new coach, replacing Doug Marrone.

While Meyer’s continued success at the college level is undeniable, hiring will nonetheless raise a few eyebrows, given that he has no experience coaching the NFL. Many will soon compare him to college contemporary Nick Saban, who sadly waded through two seasons with the Dolphins before returning to coaching college in Alabama.

It remains to be seen whether Meyer will learn to overcome professional obstacles. But there are other factors – his ties to the state of Florida, his history of health issues and scandals, and his management style, among others – that owner Shad Khan had to take into account in deciding whether to go there. ‘hire.

Here’s a look at those factors and how they might affect Meyer’s tenure with the Jaguars:

MORE: How Meyer can be successful in the NFL, somewhere between Nick Saban and Pete Carroll

Why did the Jaguars hire Urban Meyer?

Khan, by announcing the rentalsaid Meyer, “is what we want and need, a leader, a winner and a champion who demands excellence and delivers results. While Urban already enjoys a legacy in football that few will match ever, his passion for the opportunity before him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable. ”

“With the opportunities ahead in the NFL Draft and the strong support from ownership, the Jaguars are well positioned to get competitive,” Meyer said. said in a prepared statement: “I looked at this decision from all angles – the time has come in Jacksonville, and the time has come for me to return to training.”

Urban Meyer’s record in Florida, Ohio State

Meyer is an exclusive group of coaches who have won national championships at several schools; only he and Saban accomplished this feat, with Meyer doing so in Florida (2006, ’08) and Ohio state (2014). Oddly enough, Meyer had to walk through teams from Saban to Alabama in his last two national championship seasons, defeating Crimson Tide in the 2008 SEC Championship game and the 2014 college football playoff semifinals.

Meyer has an impressive 187-32 record in 17 college football seasons. This includes a 17-6 record at Bowling Green (2001-02); a 22-2 record in Utah (2003-04); a 65-15 record in Florida (2005-10); and an 83-9 record at Ohio State (2012-18). Meyer has never suffered a losing season at the college level, with his worst season (8-5) in 2010 in Florida. He also has two undefeated seasons, in Utah in 2004 and in Ohio State in 2012.

Jacksonville would like Meyer to continue this sustained success after losing records under previous coaches Doug Marrone (23-43), Gus Bradley (14-48) and Jack Del Rio (68-71).

Florida State Links

There is no doubt that Meyer’s ties to Florida State contributed to his picking Jacksonville over other head coaching opportunities with the Chargers, Falcons and Jets, among others. Jacksonville is only an hour and a half drive from Gainesville, where Meyer coached the Gators for six seasons.

While Meyer, 56, intends to retire for good after his stint with the Jaguars, it makes sense for him to choose Jacksonville as his final coaching destination if he intends to reside permanently in the ‘State thereafter.

Experience evaluating and developing talented players

Meyer has a long history of recruiting, evaluating and developing top talent before sending them to the NFL. This includes former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith (Utah), running backs Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State), defensive ends Nick and Joey Bosa (Ohio State), wide receiver Michael Thomas (Ohio State), offensive linemen Mike and Maurkice. Pouncey (Florida) and wide receiver Percy Harvin (Florida), among others.

While Meyer will have to learn to navigate the draft, free will, and trade market instead of selecting the best players along the recruiting trail, he has helped develop those players into NFL-caliber talent. If he can have similar success with his Jaguars players already on the roster – and those he takes in the draft – there’s no reason to think Jacksonville can’t become a regular AFC South contender. in the coming seasons.

His success in developing this very important position: the quarterback will be of paramount importance.

MORE: Meyer reportedly assembled staff for Jaguars work

Quarterback development history

Jacksonville’s quarterback situation was far from ideal in 2020 with Gardner Minshew II, rookie Jake Luton and Mike Glennon all struggling: they combined to complete 387 of 616 passes for 3,955 yards and 25 touchdowns on 16 interceptions. . Luton and Glennon were winless as starters, and Minshew wasn’t much better, going 1-7 in eight starts.

Meyer will be invited to improve this position immediately, which he will be in a privileged position for the overall No. 1 pick. He has a moderate history of success with this position, helping Smith become the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NFL Draft as well as recruiting future NFL MVP Cam Newton in Florida (Newton later transferred to Auburn after a stint one year in JUCO). Meyer also produced NFL draft picks to Tim Tebow, Cardale Jones and Dwayne Haskins, though neither of those players ended up going professionally.

This leads to the most important question Meyer will have to face ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft:

Will Meyer write Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields?

There are more than a few people who watched the 2021 Sugar Bowl game between Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and wondered if QB Buckeye’s performance in that game should propel him to the No. 1 pick in the draft. .

Fields was clearly the better of the two in their second all-time meeting; despite take a bad photo at the ribs , he completed 22 of 28 passes for 385 yards and six touchdowns in an interception. He also ran eight times for 42 yards. Compare that to Lawrence, who completed 33 of 48 passes for 400 yards but only two touchdowns and one interception.

The fields transferred to play for the Buckeyes in January 2019, the month after Meyer’s second retirement from football. So there is no personal connection between the two that would make Meyer push him back onto Lawrence. And while Meyer praised Fields’ natural ability and leadership – even comparing him to Deshaun Watson – he has already assessed who is the best of the two:

Assuming Meyer’s assessment hasn’t changed, he should take Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

MORE: Why Trevor Lawrence is Much Better for Jaguars than Jets

The story of the Meyer scandals

Despite his success on the court, Meyer doesn’t have the clearest record in Jacksonville: both Ohio state and Florida have faced scandals that date back to his time as the head of the programs.

Thirty-one players from Florida were stopped while enrolled in school under Meyer from 2005 to 2010. According to a 2013 New York Times report, 41 players from his 2008 National Championship team – about a third – faces arrest either in college or after leaving Florida. Most notable of these is Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of first degree murder in 2015.

Meyer in 2018 was also criticized for his relationship with Zach Smith , which he kept on his staff in Florida and the State of Ohio even though he was allegedly aware of domestic violence between him and his wife, Courtney Smith. Meyer fired Smith in July 2018 after national football journalist Brett McMurphy published an article in which Courtney Smith discussed an incident of domestic violence in 2009.

Meyer was put on administrative leave due to the scandal, missing three games; he later announced his impending retirement, citing exacerbated health concerns as a result of the Ohio state investigation.

It remains to be seen whether Meyer has learned any lessons from these scandals or whether working with professional players – instead of 18-22 years old – will help him avoid any future problems.

What will Meyer’s relationship look like, Khan?

Khan has been a largely independent owner of the Jaguars, which resulted in a record of 41-106 from 2012 to 2020. It stands to reason, then, that he will want more to have a say in how the The team is being managed and the players he thinks Meyer and the future GM should go after.

That’s a far cry from Meyer’s experience at the college level, where he retained complete control over his respective programs – recruiting, coaching, and roster management. It was this lack of control that helped Saban return to the college game. Meyer’s ability to handle this will go a long way towards his success in Jacksonville, but he must be prepared to let Khan have his say – and let his future GM do his job as well.

Something else to consider: Meyer isn’t used to losing. Its worst came in 2010, when Florida went 8-5 (0.615). A comparable season at Jacksonville would be 10-7, or 11-6. Meyer is unlikely to score double-digit wins in his first season, or maybe even his second. He will have to be patient while developing the organization towards the AFC South dispute.



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